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NHS pay rise: anything less than 12.5% will put patients at risk

Stark warning from RCN as it tells NHS pay review body that only a substantial increase in nursing salaries can help retain staff in the numbers needed to protect patient safety
RCN demands 12.5% pay rise for nurses in NHS

Stark warning from RCN as it tells NHS pay review body substantial pay rise essential to halt exodus of nursing staff that risks putting patient safety in jeopardy

The RCN is demanding a 12.5% pay rise for all nurses as it warns time is running out to address the government’s ‘unacceptable pay plan’ for NHS staff.

In a submission to the NHS Pay Review Body (RB) on Monday in response to the government’s 2022-23 pay rise recommendation, the college claimed without a significant pay reward for 2022-23 ‘more nursing staff will be lost, patient safety will be further compromised and the NHS will simply be unable to recover.’

Why steep rise in nurses’ pay is long overdue

It called for nurses

Stark warning from RCN as it tells NHS pay review body substantial pay rise essential to halt exodus of nursing staff that risks putting patient safety in jeopardy

RCN demands 12.5% pay rise for nurses in NHS
Picture: iStock

The RCN is demanding a 12.5% pay rise for all nurses as it warns time is running out to address the government’s ‘unacceptable pay plan’ for NHS staff.

In a submission to the NHS Pay Review Body (RB) on Monday in response to the government’s 2022-23 pay rise recommendation, the college claimed without a significant pay reward for 2022-23 ‘more nursing staff will be lost, patient safety will be further compromised and the NHS will simply be unable to recover.’

Why steep rise in nurses’ pay is long overdue

It called for nurses to receive a pay rise five percentage points above inflation, which at the time of the submission the RPI (retail prices index) measure of inflation was running at 7.5%. Combining the two would equate to a 12.5% pay award.

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen

RCN General Secretary Pat Cullen said: ‘If the government does not listen it will be to the detriment of patients when more and more nursing staff decide to leave the profession.

‘With three months until they are expected to make an announcement, they must listen to people who work in our health and care services. When a nurse or healthcare support worker feels no alternative but to leave, it becomes ever more challenging to provide highly effective care. They deserve salaries that befit a safety-critical profession.’

Poor pay is forcing an exodus from the profession

Last month, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) advised the RB that nurses should be given a maximum 3% pay rise in 2022-23, claiming anything more would compromise the NHS’s ability to tackle its treatment backlog.

But the RCN said experienced staff are leaving the profession because they do not feel valued – and it is this that will ultimately compromise patient safety.

RCN evidence to the RB states: ‘Nursing staff are dealing with unprecedented demand in health and care services across all settings as well as facing a massive backlog for care since the pandemic. Their commitment to safe and effective care will only be further undermined by the lack of recognition for their work.’

The submission highlights recent NMC data showing an 11% rise in nurses leaving the profession in 2021. It also points to the RCN’s own independent economic analysis that shows nursing staff have been hit harder financially than other professions, with buying power reduced by wage stagnation and rising inflation.

Pay campaigns across the UK

The RCN has been campaigning for a 12% pay rise for nurses in 2021-22.

An RCN England and Wales indicative ballot revealed half of nurses who took part would be willing to take strike action over the 3% pay offer for 2021-22, with 84% saying they were willing to take industrial action short of a strike.

Nurses in Scotland have said they are prepared to strike over their 4% pay offer for the same year, with 60% of RCN Scotland members who voted in an indicative ballot supporting strike action.

In Northern Ireland an RCN ballot showed 92% of members did not want to accept an offer of 3% made by the Health Service Executive. The college is currently consulting members on action.

Pay recommendation due in late spring

The RB is due to make its NHS pay recommendations to the government in May.

Ms Cullen added: ‘By summer, ministers must come back with a pay award that turns the tide on the years of unfilled nursing jobs and experienced professionals struggling to make ends meet.’


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